Arsenal and Chelsea did nothing to make the Premier League title picture look any less cloudy on Monday, playing to a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium. The shared points mean that Arsenal are in second at Christmas, behind Liverpool on goal differential, while Chelsea sit just two points back in fourth.
The game started with both teams packing their respective midfields. Mikel Arteta played behind Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil with Tomas Rosicky pinching in, while Chelsea lined up in a 4-3-3 with John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Frank Lampard in the center. This meant chances were limited early on.
Eventually, after around a half-hour of play, things began to open up for both sides. Lampard struck the crossbar in the 32nd minute, missing out on what would have been a spectacular opening goal in a 12-yard volley by mere inches. Four minutes later, Arsenal were on the end of a couple of very questionable officiating decisions. The Gunners should have been given a penalty when Willian tripped Theo Walcott in the box in the 36th minute, then should have gone up a man a minute later when Mike Dean failed to spot a dangerous challenge by Mikel on Arteta.
The open nature of the final 15 minutes of the first half caused both managers to get a tad more cautious in the second half, with Arsenal making a particularly noticeable change, dropping Ramsey a bit deeper. They had more of the ball in the second half, but their chances were limited. Olivier Giroud shanked a great opportunity wide from close range in the 79th minute, then failed to convert again on a low cross six minutes later, with John Terry blocking his effort.
Jose Mourinho made a decision to actively paid for a draw right after that second Giroud chance, bringing David Luiz on for Fernando Torres. Ultimately, he got what he wanted out of the closing minutes, hanging on for a well-earned away draw.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Sagna, Arteta, Özil, Ramsey, Rosicky, Giroud, Walcott
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Mikel, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard (Schürrle 73'), Torres (David Luiz 87'), Willian (Oscar 77')